Sep 20, 2016
All a person’s ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the Lord.
Proverbs 16:2 NIV
כָּֽל־דַּרְכֵי־אִ֭ישׁ זַ֣ךְ בְּעֵינָ֑יו וְתֹכֵ֖ן רוּח֣וֹת יְהוָֽה׃
A study from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism asked thousands of people what news was most important to them. International news beat out celebrity and “fun” news by a margin of two-to-one. Economic and political news finished even higher. But what happens when readers were asked not what’s important, but what they actually read?
Derek Thompson with The Atlantic claims most Americans lie about what they actually read. He explains: [On June 17, 2014], the most important story in the world, according to every major American newspaper this morning, is the violent splintering of Iraq.
So what did we actually read on June 17, 2014? The top stories across the big media outlets focused on the World Cup, a YouTube game, gluten and postpartum depression, the Miss America Pageant, and the Video Music Awards. Thompson concludes, “Ask audiences what they want, and they’ll tell you vegetables. Watch them quietly, and they’ll mostly eat candy.”
If we are truthful about ourselves, we discover we are rather dishonest. Consequently, we wouldn’t par too well if we were asked to submit to a spiritual fitness test based on a thorough self-examination of our inner truthfulness. We tend to overestimate our goodness and underestimate how much we need to repent and grow.
In Proverbs 16:2 Solomon beckons us to sign up for an investigation of our inner lives lest we be scammed by a dishonest heart. (more…)
Jul 28, 2016
“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” (Proverbs 15:1 NIV)
מַֽעֲנֶה־רַּ֭ךְ יָשִׁ֣יב חֵמָ֑ה וּדְבַר־עֶ֝֗צֶב יַעֲלֶה־אָֽף׃
For individuals reared in a home of discord, an environment of bickering and contention has become a family tradition.
A young rabbi faced a serious problem in his congregation. During erev Shabbat service, half the congregation stood for the prayers and the other half remained seated, and each side shouted at the other, insisting theirs was the true tradition.
Nothing the rabbi said or did helped solve the impasse. Finally, in desperation, the young rabbi sought out the synagogue’s 99-year-old founder. He met the old rabbi and poured out his heart. “So,” he pleaded, “was it the tradition for the congregation to stand during the prayers?”
“No,” answered the old rabbi. “Then it was the tradition to sit during the prayers,” responded the younger man. “No,” answered the old rabbi. “Well,” the young rabbi answered, “what we have now is complete chaos! Half the people stand and shout and the other half sit and scream.”
“Ah,” said the old rabbi, “that was the tradition.”
In Proverbs 15:1 Solomon, king of the nation of Israel, demonstrates his awareness of angry conflicts that boil over into our homes. The solution offered by the wise king is not for us to ignore angry words. Rather, he tells us returning harsh words with harsher words is non-productive and can heat up our relationships like a hot air balloon.
As we look at Proverbs 15:1 we are given an “out of the box” way of reacting to potentially heated exchanges and defusing a situation to open a door for God to bring His peace. (more…)
Jun 21, 2016
In everything the prudent acts with knowledge, but a fool flaunts his folly.
כָּל־ע֭֭רוּם יַעֲשֶׂ֣ה בְדָ֑עַת ו֝֝כְסִ֗יל יִפְרֹ֥שׂ אִוֶּֽלֶת׃
In a San Francisco Examiner (7/7/93) report the California State Automobile Association claims office received a package by Federal Express. The unknown contents were bundled in a Fruit Loops cereal box.
Workers quickly became suspicious. Security guards called the police, and about 400 office workers were evacuated from the building. The bomb squad soon arrived on the scene.
The Fruit Loops cereal box was “neutralized” with a small cannon, and its contents were blasted into the air. The bomb squad, however, found no explosives. Inside the suspicious package was $24,000 in cash. The box contained bundles of $20 bills, $1,000 of which were destroyed in the blast.
The response of the SF police was understandable. A suspicious package arrived that had to be dealt with. Only after the cereal box was neutralized was the identity of the contents determined.
In our world it is necessary to use caution, but acting without more thorough investigation can destroy things more valuable than money.
In Proverbs 13:16 Solomon contrasts the wisdom of taking time to think before one takes action with the foolishness of taking active steps without thinking through one’s options. (more…)